INDIANAPOLIS (AP Newsliar) -- Indiana, the most technologically challenged state in the nation, will soon be converting from full-service to self-serve gasoline stations, if state legislators have their way.
Self-serve gasoline is prohibited by law in only two states -- Oregon and New Jersey -- and there only because of an obstinate "that's the way we've always done it" mentality (Oregon) and a spiteful pleasure in pissing people off (New Jersey). In the case of Indiana, whose state law has never prohibited self-serve gasoline pumps, the lack of self-serve stems from other causes.
The "Hoosier Daddy?" state, often unfairly stereotyped by its neighboring states as being populated largely by conservative and developmentally backwards technophobic traditionalists, is in fact actually populated largely by conservative and developmentally backwards technophobic traditionalists. The sole exception is Indianapolis and its suburbs, which are comprised predominantly of metropolitan liberals. And Indianapolis is home to most of Indiana's state legislators, who are tired of the state's backwardness.
"It's just embarrassing," says Indiana state representative Moe DeLawn (D), chairperson of the committee on Roads and Transportation, and member of the Technology, Research, and Development committee. "Visitors to our state are dumbfounded when they go more than a few miles off the beaten path -- and let's face it, there aren't that many beaten paths other than I-70 and the Indianapolis beltway -- and discover there are no self-serve pumps. It's like stepping back into the 1950's, like we're Mayberry or something. It's just so embarrassing that people in Indiana regard pumping gas as such a high technology job that the average citizen can't be expected to learn how."
DeLawn is leading an effort in the Indiana house of representatives to approve a bill that would require each gas station within the state to offer self-serve pumps by 2010. Meanwhile, House republicans are drafting an addendum to the bill that would allow waivers to be obtained for parts of the state populated predominantly by the elderly or neo-Amish disinventionists, as well as rural areas. Critics of the addendum argue that the proposed waiver rules would exempt all of Indiana save the state's sole urban area of Indianapolis, which for the most part already has self-serve pumps.